As we wind our way through California’s mountainous passes it is impossible for me to not reflect on the last week I spent at Burning Man. The embers of the Temple still burn in my heart and I feel the love of that place erupting from the 70,000 spirits that have scattered across the globe, taking The Playa with them. In the end Burning Man is not a place, event, or time, it is us. Our stories, our lives, our desires and dreams, that is where the real value is, and in the end we impact each other on many levels known and unknown.
This year I did not camp with an established theme camp but our little collective of LA friends (and one last minute adopted Washingtonian) started calling ourselves Camp Sonder. The word “sonder” comes from the dictionary of obscure sorrows and is defined as “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.”
That is beautiful to me, and in many ways defines much of my experience out in the dust.
It is an oft repeated cliche but Burning Man really is whatever you make it, and often you don’t know what you will create until you get there. This year was like no other for me. In 2011 my mind was broken and the Playa provided healing. In 2012 my body and life was in constant movement and Black Rock City provided stability. And this year, my life is on a great path and I was given a celebration.
It has always been difficult for me to acknowledge my own successes. I feel guilty when things are going well and it feels braggy to admit life is good, but since my last Burn my life has been fucking awesome and that was reflected in my week on the Playa. I was able to spend a week with a woman that I’m crazy in love with, two of my best friends, an amazing couple from LA who I originally meet prepping for Burning Man in 2011 that I hope to know better in the coming months, and a new friend who is likely stuck with us crazy kids for a long time. I danced, I sang, I relaxed, I smiled, I loved, and I simply celebrated my life… and for once I realized that’s okay. Sometimes you just need to party. Of course, I want the only one celebrating. I was able to witness two beautiful weddings out on the Playa celebrating the love of four burner friends.
This last year has been a dynamic time where I pursued adventures, love, and happiness. I moved across the country in search of liberty instead of security and it paid off. I opened my heart to what the universe had to offer and I fell in love. I chose to be me instead of what society says I should be and things worked out better than I imagined. With the falling of the Temple my new year begins. This Burn may not have been a deep spiritual experience but it was exactly what I needed, an acknowledgement that my life is on an amazing course and when you pursue your dreams good things happen… and when good things happen you should celebrate and enjoy it.